Arsenal Debate: Did Cesc leaving destroy the Wenger Project?

It was all your fault Cesc! by TB

The decline of our team and the failure to win trophies since 2005 is explained by the growth in the disparity of resources that are available for our competitors and ourselves (*see article below as footnote). In addition to this critical economic fact of life I believe that another significant factor was the loss of Cesc and the subsequent impacts of his departure on the team.

Our inability to compete with the resources of Chelsea and Man City and United led to our decision to buy young talented players and to shape them as individuals into a team over a number of years. There is one fundamental requirement with this approach – it requires players to be loyal and committed to the project over several years and to see it through to fruition to eventually achieve success and win trophies.

Whilst Arsene has been loyal and committed to the players and the project – the fatal flaw with this approach has been that his key players have not stayed the distance! They stick with the project and grow for several years to ripen, start to realise their potential, and then just when the team has matured to reap the benefits of this approach to become the good team – along comes a big temptation from one of the richer and more successful Clubs and off the key player goes and the many years of cultivating the players growth comes to nothing – as the project and the team collapses in disarray! If only the players had stayed the course – imagine what a team he would have created without all this disruption – with RVP up front, Nasri out wide and Cesc in midfield – add Carzola, Wilshere and Arteta and a fit Diaby and wow….! This process is explained more fully in the article

It’s a bit like trying to build sand castles on the beach and every full moon the tide comes in and knocks it all down and Arsene has to start all over again. Its extremely frustrating and totally soul destroying for all of us – including Arsene!

Cesc was the cornerstone of our ‘grow your own’ project – in the 2010/11 season we won 60% of our games with Cesc and only 31% without him! We were twice the team with him in the side or half the team without him! His presence on the pitch determined not only the results but also the way in which we played as a team – with Cesc there it was a delight to watch him conduct games and the rest of the team play around him. We were a very good team to watch with Cesc in our team.

I don’t think we have recovered from his loss – he was arguably the best player in the EPL – so it’s not surprising that we struggled after he left. It was not just the loss of an individual world class player that was experienced but there was also the huge negative (including psychological) affect on the team that was left behind. Although it disappointed me massively I don’t criticise Cesc for leaving and going to Barca but rather I seek to demonstrate the weakness of our ‘grow your own team’ approach when there are competing Clubs able to take your key players from you.

Losing Cesc was a massive blow to the project and set off a domino effect of losing other key players. We then lost Nasri and Clichy from this team which plunged the project into further crisis and we started on a downward spiral from which it was very hard to recover. The next season we have another world class player going – RVP with a team built around him – and then Song and the Arsenal project slipped even further backwards.

Each time this happens we lose not only a world class player – another the best in the EPL – but the team suffers too – and we are faced not just with the challenge of replacing world class players (when you cant compete for all the big names out there and you don’t have the time to start all over again and grow another Cesc or RVP) but also the task of re-building yet another team (when you don’t have the time to re-build) to enable us to compete at our level and keep us there. It has not helped that we also suffered long term injuries to Rosicky, Diaby, Vermaelen and Wilshere during this period.

These are daunting challenges which can’t be fixed over night – it takes time and inevitably there will be a period of readjustment when results will not be what we want and matches will be lost; egs Norwich, Swansea and Bradford etc. Of course this is extremely disappointing and frustrating and nobody suffers and cries out for the cheque book to be got out and pleads for Gervinho to be shot as much as I do – however when I calm down and think all this through I see that is no surprise to see what is happening to our team. When I look at others reactions what I see goes way over the top and borders on mass hysteria. Sadly, we get very little enlightenment as to the real reasons for our decline either from the popular media or from sections of our so called fans, but instead get black scarf demos, calls for the Managers head on a plate, and the team being booed off the pitch!

What should we conclude from all this? Five things we need to do:

1. Get a grip on reality. Appreciate that it is extremely hard to compete on level terms with the super rich Clubs. Accept that we have had to ‘grow our own’ teams over time with players that we can afford. Coming 3rd in the league is punching above our weight given the resources available to our competitors and to ourselves.

2. Accept that there are limitations to the ‘grow your own’ approach. It is vulnerable to key players leaving and this has had a serious impact on the project. Arsene and the Club did all they could to keep these 2 world class players but it just couldn’t be done. Grasp that it has been extremely difficult to replace Cesc and RVP and to rebuild the team after their loss.

3. Recognise that a couple of years back we got very close to building a very good team that today could compete with all the big boys but losing Cesc stopped us in our tracks and had a massively negative impact on our project and in part contributed to us losing other key players and then another world class player in RVP. This caused major disruption to the project, set us back and has led to where we are now.

4. Appreciate that the team is not as bad as it is painted and recognise that we are in a state of transition with new players to bed in, players coming back from injury and more players still to be brought into the team in January and next summer – and that re-building the team is a difficult imprecise process and takes time to implement.

5. By all means have a rant and kick the cat but when you calm down accept that there will inconsistencies in the team’s performance whilst re-building takes place. Stop being so impatient, intolerant, negative and angry whilst this is happening – what good does it do? Understand what has happened, get behind the team and yes, show some respect for our great manager Arsene Wenger – he really doesn’t deserve all this abuse.

*There is a very interesting article which quotes the work of an economics professor’s study of English football 1973 to 2010 which dramatically demonstrates that it is economics or more specifically the resources available to a Club which determines their success rather than the manager. I strongly commend you all to read the review of his findings in the footballosopher. It is very revealing and enlightening and helps us all to understand what has been going here in England and to the Arsenal

Terry Barry

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38 thoughts on “Arsenal Debate: Did Cesc leaving destroy the Wenger Project?

  1. landmind111

    Our fortunes would change with a more impressive front three!!! That is really where we are lacking. And a DM would help too.

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  2. arshavin

    ultimately football has proved that you need a manager to handle a football teams not an economics professor.

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  3. abc

    ok..my mood’s up…but my spirit’s still down!
    i dont want my team to just punch above its weight..but punch d rivals right in their faces!!

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  4. Mizz

    Good article. If only the players had been loyal, if only. Can you imagine our team this season? We would of been dominating at the top of the league, competing for every trophy. If only the players had the loyalty to stick with Arsene like he had the loyalty to stick with them when they were making mistakes as young players.

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  5. Nicolas

    Wenger is Confused… forget about Cesc He is gone lets concentrate on who we have…

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  6. No more excuses

    The players left cos between wenger and the board they were runnin the club into a mid table team . Cesc guilty ? Lol – any1 but wenger eh ? Cesc had a chance to play for a top4 imaginary trophy …. Or play in an ambitious WINNING team who attracted top players instead if sellin em . These excuses for our position are getting as pathetic as wengers excuses after matches ! Hate players givin these stupid talks b4 matches too – sayin theyr gonna do this and that – its bout time they put ther heads down n done the talkin on pitch . Come on usmanov – put the spotlight on kronke and co – cos no1 else is gettin any answers .

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  7. stalwartgunner

    I don’t think so. Football is a place where you have plenty of commodity.
    There are lots of replacementfor Fabregas, but it seems arsenal are after average players and just to make money.

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  8. ReVeNgEr 72

    This is a good point, our team would arguably be up there with the best, especially the midfield. we would be dominating world football and the premier league. ONLY IF CESC STAYED!!!!!

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  9. gfan

    we couldve won with fabregas if wenger didnt depend on alumnia when we couldve got Given..every season there is one position that became vulnerable due to injuries or something that caused us to lose in the crucial spring period.
    now all the doom and gloom is keeping the players from playing at even at championship level…we used to beat teams like bradford with our academy players..now..

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  10. leo

    AS: Arsenal monitoring Dani Alves’ situation at Barcelona. Wenger ready to sign next summer

    Arsenal are in talks with Ajax regarding Christian Eriksen and will offer £16.2m (€20m) in January

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  11. Arsenal till I die

    What arsenal need is 3 world class player in the team. One striker one midfield and one defence. This could act as a “Big Up” for the team. This was RVP’s wishes to penned a new contract. Players come and go, the club ambition and pursuit is what motivates the fans and players in the team. That could help keeping the team going. In my opinion, the 04′ squad was so successful it’s because of the players that the arsenal had that time which made them believe that they can achieve the impossible. That’s what the arsenal now lacking. hope things changes and spend big for once to boost the team spirit and confidence. It certainly will make the fans happy to see such change. Innit? Arsenal till the end.

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  12. Super kurt

    We might not be able to compete wi city and Chelsea with transfer fees, but we surely can afford to buy a £30 million player once every couple of seasons, there is no way we don’t have money where is the money from the last 5 seasons?? Because its no been put back into the team

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  13. Sam

    Please remove “and Diaby, if fit” from this and every article ever. It is never going to happen. Ever.

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  14. leo

    what wenger should have done was when fabregas left he should have straight away replaced him with quality player like atletico madrid did when aguero left they bought falcao wenger should have sold him even before that earlier barca made 45m bid then we could have bought 2-3 players from that money but then again with this board who knows

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  15. Chris

    Can anyone honestly blame cesc for leaving to go to Barcelona! I can’t……

    He was the one that saw where the club was leading and got out while he could. You can’t blame him leaving for where we are now. End of, we didn’t re spend the money generated from his transfer. Ok he’s a class player, but every player apart from messi at the moment is replaceable. The club shouldn’t of been on a downhill spiral just because cesc left. They should of been determined enough to go out and replace him with someone as good. This paying off the stadium crap has gone on way too long without real investment in the team! The team is most important, without a decent team, you don’t fill these great stadiums!

    We need two strikers, a solid defensive midfielder, a centre half, a left back and a winger…….. Don’t think we have enough funds to fill all the gaps needed. Actually we probably do, but they’ll never spend the amount needed to get us challenging again

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  16. mani_gooner

    Chipolopolo Boys defender Stopilla Sunzu coming to arsenal…

    This is running hot in twitter.. so guys login and check out..

    23 years old can play as CB or Defensive midfielder..

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  17. Frank

    How funny would it be to go down to the beach and see Wenger with his frail body in a pair of swimmers playing in the sand building sand castles.

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  18. GP

    The article headline suggest that someone else may be to blame.
    If we won trophies and competed most of our players would still be here.
    Arsene Weneger is to blame for our failure.
    He had input into the design of the Emirates stadium and the training ground.
    Yet there are still fans that say he was forced to sell our best players because the board made him.
    This man has been given the most power i have ever seen a manager have at a football club.
    And for what?
    just think of the players we need and remind yourselves, we had quality in all those positions until we willingly sold them.There were fans saying good riddance to Alex Song in the summer.
    He has been incompetent in recent years and in the real world that results in the sack.

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  19. That Gunner

    I have realized this long time,for the fans who dont care about out economics,DEBT FREE is always a GREAT thing,we dont borrow from banks like other teams,so we wont go into the red zone which is BANKRUPT,Wenger to stay in charge,dont care what no ONE THINKS,there is not a Manager that can change our season at this point but him,CHELSHIT will show you guys,they did the wrong thing in firing RDM,3rd place is ours,I see everyone ABUSING the TEAM,STFU AND LOOK AT THE POINTS TALLY,I KNEW WE WLDNT WIN THE LEAGUE BECAUSE WE LOST 2 HUGE CORES OF THE TEAM,the expectation is too hugh,some of you fans are bad luck with your BOOING,are you REAL GUNNERS? THEN CRITICIZE AFTER THE SEASON IS DONE..COYG!!!

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  20. synsix

    ” I don’t criticize Cesc for leaving and going to Barca…” Hold on a minute sir, y in the world would u not criticize Cesc for wat he did/’to play for his home club’, c’mon that is one pathetic emotionally blackmailing attitude/he is not a bit better then adeb, cole, nasri or even RvP/being the captain of a giant ship and jumpin in the very 1st instant knowin perfectly well how much the crew depend on him is just plain selfishness and a very irresponsible behavior/we dont need him anymore/we might still not be the same team but at least we have our dignity

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  21. gunner

    slightly off topic.
    a lot of gunners come and say we need to splash the cash and buy big this January.
    But I disagree because i think the main problem for us has been the desire to hold onto our best players and give them new contracts before they enter their last year when they will attract other clubs. just look back in the squad we used to have in 2003/2004, which player did we buy for massive amounts of money? None. what about the squad in 2010 when we were challenging for the PL until february but then injuries hit us. which player from the that squad did we splash the cash on? None.
    now when i say these kind of things, it doesn’t mean i don’t have ambition or i don’t want to see arsenal doing well, it’s just that splashing the cash is not necessary because we have unearthed some fantastic talents but the thing is we don’t hold on to them and often we let them go very easily. and so we have to start all over again in order to build a championship wining side. just look at what liverpool did this summer, Daniel Agger was wanted by City, guess what liverpool do? they smack a £40 million price tag on him and then offer him a new contract LONG BEFORE he enters his last year. so city were forced to look elsewhere. why don’t WE do this is? is a mystery.
    recently xavi signed a new 3 year contract with barcelona which practically will take him to the end of his career.
    where as we offer only a one year extension for sagna but the worse part is, they are not improving on his wages. our hierarchy should take a leaf out of Barcelona’s book because that’s how you treat your best players not insult them with stupid 1 year contracts and some idiot fans will turn around and say ‘oh he’s greedy, if he cares about money, he can f**k off’ or ‘let him go, and get someone who wants to play for the badge’ but the problem is some of the players are loyal but its the board that don’t show their loyalty. i mean sagna wants to stay, walcott wants to stay but the board have other ideas. in the past we sold robert pires who wanted to end his career with arsenal but we sold him in 2006. why? because he was over 30 and the board don’t like that, even though he ‘outscored’ and ‘out assisted’ our other wingers we still sold him. what about henry and alex song, they wanted to stay but the board forced them out. also because of this policy about players over 30, i am starting to think whether we will be able to see a player retire at arsenal? will we see wilshere retire at arsenal? or jenkison or gibbs or szceney or sagna or walcott.

    also there’s lots of players right now who won’t cost alot:
    isco – 10-15 million
    alvaro negredo – 10-20 million
    llorente – 5-10 million because he’s refusing to sign a new contract
    huntelaar – as low as 6 million
    javier pastore – 10-15 million
    demba ba – 8-10 million

    these are a few examples i can think of, there are hundreds of others around the world who are quality and proven players and would improve any squad.

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  22. gunner

    @ leo
    what’s the point of buying a 29 year old right back when we are selling a 29 year old right back who’s just as good if not better.
    also his wages will be a massive problem, when we are not offering sagna £75,000 a week or £100,000 a week for walcott, how are we going to offer dani alves’ wages which is way over 100k.

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  23. gunnerboi89

    yeah well end of the day it was because the board was tight ba**ards still, before cesc we lost flamini hleb senderos all sorts. before i thought ok it doesnt matter if we don’t spend big on players but atleast pay our superstars well to keep them at the club.

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  24. fa3c3s

    Mertesacker is sooooooo SLLLLLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW. :(

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  25. terry barry

    Hello, Im Terry Barry – the person who wrote this article. After watching Santi Gorzola tonight albeit against Reading – Cesc who?

    Keep the faith and believe…

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  26. GP

    To all you fans who support us being debt free.
    How many of you apply the same principles in your own lives? Very few of us are in a position to be debt free and we still manage to have season tickets.
    Mortgages,school fees and even Season tickets can be seen as investments yet you talk this rubbish.
    As fans, the club should reinvest our money in the team in order to compete. The team is the product therefore should be seen as an investment.

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  27. Younger Hamii

    Insightful and perceptive article. When I first read the bit regarding building your own team I instinctively think of the 07/08 season: Oh – the season that should’ve been; Hleb, Flamini, Cesc, the list is almost endless, winning the league that season, which we arguably should’ve done, would’ve vhchanged the perception of some. The fact we didn’t I think really began the ‘decline’.

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  28. dave

    i think the problem is a lack of understanding of economics by the team owners. With RVP, the team invested over years to develop a polished player. Many years he was paid more than he was worth (injured), and when they finally are looking at a season where his contribution will exceed his cost, they sell him–depriving themselves of the development payoff. With RVP and Song, I suspect they would be top of the table and RVP might well want to stay.

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  29. Gigi

    JUst for records, what was our EPL position last season with Cesc¿ what was our UCL position that same season?
    Now, what was our EPL position after he left and the net? and our UCLs?

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  30. Da veekey

    Y blamng it on d fab…4 goin 2 his homeland.even when he was there @ arsenal,there were a lot of flop nd inxperience in d team due to inability 2 buy quality player,,,imagin runnning club only 4 money nd not 4 trophy….i knw no ambitious player will eva stay wit unmbitious team lyk dat….nd u antiFAB shud consider urself in those player shoes..playin wit ur heart wit club dat has no gud intension wit ur carrier,only 2 use ur talent nd energy 4 1 stupid project without TROPHY….f*** d board nd wenger..all greedy

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  31. hamid

    Arsene is very very stubborn. He played Santos, Ramsey and Gervinho until it was obvious to an idiot that they aren’t capable of any deliverance. That’s why people booed him this season. If he played Reading away team every time, he wouldn’t have any problems with the fans.

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  32. trm

    If Messi left Barcelona it would destable them possibly in the same manner it has with Cesc leaving Arsenal. Potentially what was worse was his departing encouraged others to leave…Nasri, V.Persie.

    Arsene picked up on this current group of young British players being intregual to the future of Arsenal. They are also potentially Top British players. I would like to find a Adams/Terry mold Centre Back but on harder matches than the Reading challenge, I would like to see a solid holding midfielder. I sense with Arsene he wants to outperform attackively and bed the game within 60minutes and see out the remaining 30minutes. Unfortunatly days don’t go to plan, and other days we just need a bully on the pitch to tighten up the game.

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  33. terry barry

    well said trm. perhaps the switch in focus to recruiting young british players is a response to the cesc situation – and i must stress that i am not xenophobic – and is done in the belief that they will be more loyal to the project than young ‘johny foreigner’!

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